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Getting Smart

About Earthquakes

We Teach Earthquake Safety

Knowing what to do could save your life

MySafe:Riverside visits elementary schools throughout Los Angeles, teaching kids about earthquake science, safety, and survival. We often produce realistic earthquake drills, where students practice being trapped, and local firefighters rescue them. It’s educational for the students, their families, the faculty, and even the firefighters.

These five words are for everyone.


You’ve likely heard these words before – and even read them elsewhere in the MySafe:LA website. We keep repeating these words because they’re so important for everyone to know. Earthquakes happen without warning. When the ground starts to shake:

  • DROP to the ground
  • COVER your head and the back of your neck, or
  • take COVER beneath a sturdy piece of furniture like a desk, and
  • HOLD ON to that piece of furniture until the shaking stops
Practice makes perfect; practice makes permanent. Make sure to practice DROPCOVER, and HOLD ON once a month with your family and classmates or colleagues.
The next major California earthquake is 30 minutes away, or 30 years away

It isn't a matter of if, but when

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that Southern California has a 99.7% chance of experiencing a large, destructive earthquake in the next 30 years. 99.7%. It’s hard to get more likely than that.

Geologists have identified dozens of dangerous fault lines that run near and even underneath the City of Los Angeles. Many of them are capable of producing widespread damage if they rupture. And these are only the faults we know about. In 1994, when the Northridge Earthquake struck, killing at 57 people, and injuring another 8,700, it occurred on a fault scientists didn’t even know existed.

If the southern end of the region’s largest fault, the San Andreas, ruptures (and it is more than 170 years overdue for just such an “adjustment”) experts predict there will be over 1,600 fires within the LA city limits within minutes. If a 6.6 earthquake were to strike in Hollywood, there is concern the entire area including the Hollywood Hills would be destroyed by fire. When this happens, the fire department and other life saving agencies will be overwhelmed. They’ll have no choice but to respond to the largest, most crucial emergency calls, which means the vast majority of us will only have ourselves and each other to rely upon.

For goodness sake, believe the science and act.

The time to prepare is now!

Dr. Lucy Jones formerly from the USGS and now founder of the Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society says Los Angeles isn’t ready for a major earthquake. The next big earthquake will:
  • Impact as many as 10 million people
  • Injure of kill as many as 11,000 people
  • Cause $20 billion in damages
  • Effect major infrastructures for months, including water, power, Internet, and telephone
As Dr. Jones says, “everyone needs to store more water, and they need to learn how to use a fire extinguisher.”

It’s for these reasons that MySafe:LA conducts realistic earthquake drills with elementary school students and firefighters. It’s why we teach QuakeSmart:LA tactics in elementary schools. And, it’s why we teach CPR to high school students.

Prepare your home.

Create a kit of emergency supplies.

Include your pets in your plans.

Consider joining CERT.

Check Out Our Earthquake Resources

Every year, few organize resources to help you get the most up-to-date information on earthquakes, safety trends, and the Great Shakeout. Check them out!

Need to register? Start here!

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